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Waiver Wire Watch: Taj Bradley debuts, Willson Contreras replacements

Fantasy catcher options after Contreras' injury
With Cardinals’ catcher Willson Contreras hitting the injured list, Eric Samulski and Scott Pianowski highlight Danny Jansen and Mitch Garver as potential fantasy replacements.

Welcome to Waiver Wire Watch, where we review the top waiver wire adds and drops for each week of the MLB season.

The premise is pretty straightforward. I’ll try to give you some recommended adds each week based on recent production or role changes. When I list a player, I’ll try to list the category where I think he’ll be helpful or the quick reason he’s listed. My hope is that it will help you to determine if the player is a fit for what your team needs or not.

For a player to qualify to be on this list, he needs to be UNDER 50% rostered in Yahoo! formats. I understand you may say, “These players aren’t available in my league,” and I can’t help you there. These players are available in over 50% of leagues and some in 98% of leagues, so they’re available in many places and that can hopefully satisfy readers in all league types.

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Fantasy Baseball Waiver Wire Adds

We’ll start by just looking at the teams with the best overall schedule in the next week. It’s just a part of the equation but it’s good to know which hitters will face an easier road.

Good Schedule
@ ATL, vs PIT
@ ARI, @ LAD
vs OAK, vs MIL
@ SF, vs CIN
vs PHI, @ MIA
vs NYM, vs WAS
@ BOS, @ TOR
@ HOU, @KC
@ MIL, @ CHC
White Sox
@TB, vs CLE


Luis Garcia - 2B/SS, WAS: 48% rostered

I’ve put Garcia on here every week, and we’re finally getting to him hitting the 50% mark. He’s hitting .307 on the season with three home runs, 20 RBI, and seven steals. Garcia is just 23 years old and showing his best exit velocities yet. He’s top-40 in baseball in barrels per plate appearance so far and has a 50% exit velocity of 101.8 mph, which means the average of the hardest 50% of balls he hits is 101.8 mph. That’s 54th in baseball. He’s also now hitting in the middle of the Nationals’ lineup. He’s not going to put up massive numbers, but he’s looking rock solid right now and I wouldn’t be surprised if he finished the season hitting .280 with 15+ steals and 12+ home runs.

Junior Caminero - 3B, TB: 43% rostered

I’m going to keep Junior Caminero on here because he remains my favorite prospect stash if you have the bench space to do it. He suffered a quad injury that sidelined him at Triple-A and had a brief setback, but he’s back in action and hitting the ball well. When he’s on the field, Caminero looks like a player who could produce immediate fantasy value. The Rays aren’t getting much from their DH spot, and Brandon Lowe is now on the IL with an oblique injury. There’s a chance the Rays will give Caminero a few games to get his timing back and show that he’s fully healthy before giving him another shot at the big leagues. I think you can also stash Coby Mayo - 3B, BAL (10% rostered). The Orioles won’t keep playing Jorge Mateo in the infield, but they could move Jordan Westburg to 2B and allow Mayo to come up and play 3B. Another stash is Orelvis Martinez - 2B/3B/SS - TOR (9% rostered) who’s hitting .276 with nine home runs and 27 RBI in 34 games at Triple-A for the Blue Jays. I can’t see Toronto continuing to run out Cavan Biggio and Isiah Kiner-Falefa every day, and Addison Barger isn’t the answer, so it seems only a matter of time before Orelvis gets a shot.

Ceddanne Rafaela - SS/OF, BOS: 29% rostered

I understand why people cut Rafaela in most leagues. He wasn’t hitting well for the Red Sox and his swing looked a little long. However, he now has dual-position eligibility and the Red Sox need him in the lineup every day. Sometimes with prospects, it takes a little while to get their footing against MLB competition, but Rafaela has looked better of late, going 14-for-40 (.350) with 10 RBI, two home runs, and one steal over the two weeks. This is still probably more of a deep league add because I think he’s swinging and missing too much, but I also think his profile is the type you take a gamble on in 15+ team leagues. I was also high on Zach Neto - SS, LAA (15% rostered) coming into the year and while he started slowly, he’s been hitting better of late, going 13-of-47 (.277) over the last two weeks with two home runs and two steals. I do like his power/speed ability but the lineup around him is bad and he hasn’t caught fire yet, so this is a deep league add only.

Jonny DeLuca - OF, TB (21% rostered)

DeLuca has slowed a little bit since coming out of the IL swinging a hot bat, but he’s still hitting .292 over his seven games with one home run, 10 RBI, and two steals. He also plays solid defense in center field which will give him a chance to lock down regular playing time in Tampa. They were allegedly interested in making him part of the Tyler Glasnow deal and he showed well as a prospect for the Dodgers. I don’t think you’re getting a major breakout here, but maybe you get a solid semi-regular player? That’s good enough in deeper formats. Another outfield option is Leody Taveras - OF, TEX (13% rostered). Many people thought Taveras would be expendable with Wyatt Langford making the team, but his defense was always going to keep him around. Now we’re seeing his offense start to catch up with Taveras hitting 14-for-43 (.326) over the last two weeks with three home runs, eight RBI, 14 runs scored, and two steals. That’s production across all five categories. He’s been hitting near the top of a good Rangers lineup and so we really like that for his value in runs. Remember that Taveras is only 25 years old and is coming off his best MLB season last year. We could be getting some more growth here.

Josh Rojas - 2B/3B, SEA: 21% rostered

I covered Rojas in my article last week on hitters to pick up and put him in this column last week. Here’s what I wrote: “He’s sporting a career-high walk rate and a career-low strikeout rate. He’s chasing outside of the zone at a career-low rate, making contact at a career-high rate, and registering a career-best 7.7% SwStr%. All told, Rojas’ more selective approach this season has led to career-bests across the board. Since plate discipline metrics have long since started to stabilize, I think it’s pretty clear that we’re seeing a new approach from Rojas, and his .347 batting average and 7% barrel rate will give him no reason to change it. With J.P. Crawford out, he’s also been hitting leadoff, which gives him a little added boost.”

Abraham Toro - 2B/3B, OAK (20% rostered)

It’s weird to recommend Oakland hitters, but the offense has been much better than people expected. In fact, they’re pretty much a middle-of-the-pack unit and Toro is a part of that. He’s been hitting leadoff for them of late and has gone 20-for-49 (.410) over the last two weeks with 10 runs scored, one home run, and six RBI. We have no idea if Oakland will keep being a feisty offense, but Toro has been an intriguing player in the past and the lineup spot is certainly a nice feather in his cap. Another second base option in deeper formats is Michael Massey - 2B, KC (9% rostered), who has been hitting well after a rough patch when he first came off the IL. He’s gone 13-for-47 (.277) over the last two weeks with seven runs scored, three home runs, and 11 RBI. He showed some power potential last year, and the Royals lineup is solid, so Massey could be a good option in deeper leagues when he doesn’t face a lot of left-handed pitchers since he will sit some of those.

Danny Jansen - C, TOR (15% rostered)

Maybe you, like me, lost Willson Contreras this week to a brutal injury. He’s going to be sidelined for at least 10 weeks, and I wouldn’t be surprised if it was three months. It’s tough to hold a catcher until August, especially if you’re in a two-catcher league. If you need a replacement, my primary target is Jansen, who has been playing a lot as both a catcher and DH for the Blue Jays since many of their hitters are struggling right now. Jansen has always been a good hitter with solid pop, but his main concerns have been injury and playing time. I think the playing time will be there for the next few weeks at least, and I’d rather gamble on him staying healthy than take a less-talented catcher. However, if you do want another hitter, I like Connor Wong - C, BOS (26% rostered) (HOT STREAK, POWER GAINS) who has been hitting .370 over the last two weeks and showing a good amount of power and contact ability of Shea Langeliers - C, OAK (21% rostered) (POWER) who is pretty much an all-or-nothing power bat, but he’s seeing the ball well of late, so you can take a short term chance on him keeping it going. Lastly, Ivan Herrera - C, STL (5% rostered) will take Contreras’ place as the starting catcher for the Cardinals and has hit .253 on the season with three home runs and 11 RBI in 26 games. Cardinals writers were big on him coming into the year thanks to some power growth displayed in the winter leagues, and so Herrera could shine as the starter.

Jon Singleton - 1B, HOU: 8% rostered

Jon Singleton is finally getting a chance to play every day and the power has certainly been there with four home runs and 10 RBI over the last two weeks. You’re not getting much else, and I have no idea how long this will last, but if you want power, he could be worth a gamble or you could also go with Carlos Santana - 1B, MIN (6% rostered), who’s homered in back-to-back games and now has four over the last two weeks as well while also hitting .265 over that time. I wouldn’t spend big money on either of these guys, but if you want a power gamble, go for it.

Tommy Pham - OF, CWS: 7% rostered

Nobody seems to want to pick up Tommy Pham, even though he’s hitting 15-for-50 (.300) over the last two weeks with two home runs, eight runs, eight RBI, and two steals. He’s not going to set the world on fire, and his team is not good, but he’s always chipped in a little bit in all five categories and he’s playing neatly every game. He’s a really solid safe floor option. If you wanted to swing for the ceiling, you could add Jo Adell - OF, LAA: 33% rostered (POWER/SPEED, PLAYING TIME) who has five home runs and two steals over the last two weeks despite experiencing some regression in his batting average or JJ Bleday - OF, OAK: 6% rostered (POWER, NEW LEVEL, PLAYING TIME) the former second overall pick, who had great plate discipline last year and may finally be turning that into results this season. He’s 11-for-42 (.262) over the last two weeks with three home runs, 10 RBI, and eight runs scored. Since that production is coming on the back of a long-standing elite feel for the strike zone, it has me thinking it might be real enough to put him on deep league radars.

Davis Schneider - 2B/OF, DET: 7% rostered

With George Springer sidelined, Davis Schneider has gotten a chance to lead off, which also makes sense since he has the highest on-base percentage on the team. The counting stats haven’t been there for him of late, but he’s been performing pretty well at the dish, hitting 14-of-35 (.400) over the last two weeks with one home run, nine runs scored, five RBI, and two steals. If the lineup can pick up around him and the Blue Jays keep him at the top of the lineup, he’s a great add in deeper formats. I also don’t mind adding Matt Vierling - 3B/OF, DET: 2% rostered in deeper formats. We’re seeing some great stuff from Vierling of late. He’s starting at 3B in most games and hitting fifth in the order now. He’s chasing far less out of the zone but being way more aggressive in the zone while also cutting his swinging strike rate. He’s also clearly using that aggression to trend towards power, pulling the ball more and lifting it 10% more than last year. That’s led to a 9% barrel rate on the year. His home park isn’t great for power, and the walk rate has plummeted which will hurt his OPS and OBP, but the quality of contact has been really good.

Ezequiel Duran - 1B/3B/SS/OF - TEX: 3% rostered

Duran is likely a short-term add, but with Wyatt Langford and Josh Jung both hurt, he’s now started six of the last seven games for the Rangers and is hitting 11-for-23 (.478) over the last two weeks with five runs and three RBI. He has no homers and just one steal on the season, but last year he hit 14 home runs and stole eight bases in 122 games, so I think there is some potential for him to contribute across five categories now that he seems set to get near every day at-bats for the next couple of weeks. Given his multi-position eligibility, that’s a solid waiver add. Another short-term add is Paul DeJong - SS, CWS (5% rostered). The veteran is swinging a hot bat, going 10-for-26 (.385) over the last week with three home runs, nine runs scored, six RBI, and one steal. We’ve seen DeJong get hot for stretches in the past and he has the power to be an asset. Just know that he will very likely go cold again.


Gavin Stone - SP, LAD: 41% rostered
I don’t know how many more starts we’re going to get from Gavin Stone without Bobby Miller nearing a rehab assignment, but I think you can still squeeze some value out of him for the next couple of weeks. Stone has now lasted at least six innings in three straight starts and is proving to be a rock-solid “team streamer” as Paul Sporer says. He’s not getting you lots of strikeouts, but the ratios have been good with his new pitch mix. I think he should be a solid start against the Giants this upcoming week.

Christian Scott - SP, NYM: 39% rostered
Scott followed up this solid MLB debut against an admittedly mediocre Rays offense with a strong showing against a good Braves team. His ability to miss bats is clear, and I love his demeanor on the mound. His fastball has so much life and his sweeper and slider both have the potential to miss plenty of bats. If he succeeded against the Braves, he can probably be started against most offenses, so even if you decide to be cautious and sit him this upcoming week against the Phillies, he should absolutely be added to your roster.

Dean Kremer - SP, BAL (39% rostered)
I think Kremer should get more respect. In the second half of last season, Kremer started throwing his fastball up in the zone more and added Induced Vertical Break (iVB) without changing his release point. He also added drop to his changeup, which helped him with strikeouts and, in 74.2 second-half innings, he posted a 3.25 ERA, 1.23 WHIP, and 20.5% strikeout rate, compared to a 4.78 ERA, 1.37 WHIP, and 22% strikeout rate in 98 first half innings. He’s carried over that success this year and is a solid starter against the Mariners this week.

Clarke Schmidt - NYY: 38% rostered
Clarke Schmidt was a bit of a fantasy darling last year, but he didn’t have any pitches to consistently get out lefties so his season never really amounted to a lot. Schmidt changed his grip this offseason on his sweeper and curveball, and the curve has emerged as a good offering to all hitters, especially lefties. Schmidt is also going away from his sinker more in two-strike counts, which has led to more strikeouts, and I believe he’s a pretty solid starter to add to your roster and throw against 75% of the offenses in baseball.

Taj Bradley - SP, TB: 37% rostered
For the last two weeks, I mentioned that I thought it was time to stash Bradley, and I really hope you did because he looked really good in his season debut against the Yankees. Bradley got 11 swings and misses on 93 pitches on the night — at least two on each of his four offerings — while posting a 30% CSW. He seems to be making some small changes to his pitch mix from last year, and with his upside, he needs to be rostered in all formats. I also think it’s time to stash his teammate Shane Baz - SP, TB: 24% rostered, who I discussed in last week’s Add/Drop video on YouTube. He struggled with his command in his first Triple-A rehab outing, but that’s to be expected coming off a year without pitching and also the automated strike system in the minors tends to throw off some guys, like Nick Pivetta last week. Baz has top-30 upside, so if you can stash him now, you absolutely should.

Trevor Megill - RP, MIL (37% rostered)
Megill has been on here the last two weeks and has three saves in the last two weeks but has barely seen his roster rate rise. Here’s what I wrote last week: “Megill was being used in most high-leverage situations before suffering a concussion. When coming back, he was immediately thrust into high-leverage situations and now has two saves in the last week. I think this will be a shared situation, so both Megill and Joel Payamps should be rostered, but I like what Megill is doing.” Since then, Megill has gotten all three of the save chances for the Brewers. I also think it might be time to pick Alex Lange - RP, DET (45% rostered) back up. He’s moved back into second on the leverage ladder in Detroit and Jason Foley is really struggling. His velocity has been down over the last few appearances and he’s not missing the bats he was early on. We could see Lange get back into a share of the closer’s gig, especially since Foley was used in the seventh inning this week.

Yennier Cano - RP, BAL (36% rostered)
Craig Kimbrel is in the middle of a rough patch and is being used in non-save situations, which has opened up save opportunities for Yennier Cano. I don’t think Cano is taking this job, but maybe Kimbrel needs a reset and Cano could steal some saves over the next couple of weeks. I also think it’s still worth rostering Michael Kopech - RP, CWS (26% rostered), who has two saves and hasn’t given up a run in five of his last six outings. You could also gamble on Jordan Leasure - RP, CWS (1% rostered), who also has two saves and has been pitching well of late, lowering his ERA to 2.20 over 16 innings.

Reese Olson - SP, DET: 25% rostered
Reese Olson is a pitcher I’ve been bullish on since the preseason, so it’s nice to see him delivering here. He’s on a run of five straight good starts and really only has one blemish on the year with a poor second start against the Pirates. The schedule he’s faced hasn’t been the hardest but that’s also part of what comes with pitching in the AL Central. I think Olson is a talented, young arm and I believe he’ll finally get a win at some point since this Tigers offense should get going a bit. He’s a great start against Miami this week.

Check out my list of weekly streamers below.


Luis Gil (NYY) - vs CWS

Matt Manning (DET) - vs MIA, at ARI

Reese Olson (DET) - vs MIA

Michael Lorenzen (TEX) - vs CLE, vs LAA

Dean Kremer (BAL) - vs SEA

Jameson Taillon (CHC) - at ATL, vs PIT

Ryne Nelson (ARI) - vs DET

Sem Robberse (STL) - vs LAA, vs BOS

Robert Gasser (MIL) - vs PIT

Mitchell Parker (WAS) - @ CWS

Griffin Canning (LAA) - vs STL

Landon Knack (LAD) - vs CIN (rumored to be coming up for a spot start this week)

Sean Manaea (NYM) - vs PHI, at MIA

Jose Soriano (LAA) - vs STL, at TEX

Cooper Criswell (BOS) - vs TB

Mason Black (SF) - vs COL

Simeon Woods-Richardson (MIN) - at CLE

Ryan Feltner (COL) - at SF

Robert Gasser - SP, MIL: 8% rostered
Everybody is into Paul Skenes, and rightfully so, but he’s well over 50% rostered and there’s another rookie who looked pretty good in his debut that’s widely available. Gasser has a deep pitch mix and solid command so while he won’t wow you in the way Skenes does, he is still a good prospect. He features an elite sweeper and has solid control with his sinker and four-seam, which gives him a good foundation. I believe he’s a smart enough and poised enough pitcher to make the most of his arsenal as a safe floor option. Last week I also mentioned Sem Robberse - SP, STL (2% rostered), who is now set to get a two-start week this week. My exact words were: “I first learned about Robberse from reading Chris Clegg’s work. Robberse has a 1.77 ERA with 35 strikeouts to seven walks. Chris mentioned that Robberse reworked his arsenal to use his four-seam less and lead with his cutter, slider, and changeup. He should get a chance with Steven Matz sidelined.”

Matt Manning - SP, DET: 4% rostered
With Kenta Maeda going on the IL, it looks like Manning will be called up and immediately step into a two-start week. I was big on Manning coming into the year, and I think he has taken his arsenal to another level this spring. I would add him in all 15-team leagues.

Caleb Thielbar - RP, MIN: 3% rostered
Every year, a group of ratio-helping relievers emerges into the fantasy landscape ready to help our teams. Even though they are not likely to get saves, they can rack up strikeouts and help balance our ratios and that can often be more valuable than streaming a mediocre starter or chasing saves with a flawed reliever. Sometimes we hit the jackpot and those relievers can also snag some saves. That seems to be happening with Thielbar as Jhoan Duran has been used in high-leverage spots often since coming off the IL, leaving save opportunities for Thielbar as the best left-handed reliever in the pen. My other favorite options for that could be Jeff Hoffman- RP, PHI (23% rostered), Yimi Garcia - RP, TOR (30%) or John Schreiber - RP, KC (10 % rostered).

Players to Drop

In this section, I’ll give you a few players who are rostered in over 50% of leagues who I think might be OK to cut bait on. I’ll also list the schedule to highlight which teams have fewer games or face a tougher road of pitchers in case you want to churn the bottom of your roster by getting rid of some hitters with a bad schedule.

Bad Schedule
6vs TOR, vs SEA
6@ SD, @ SF
Blue Jays
6@ BAL, vs TB

Mike Trout - OF, LAA: 97% rostered
I know the Angels said the plan is for Trout to come back this season after undergoing knee surgery but can we be sure? If he does come back, when will that be? August? He certainly is unlikely to run much again after having knee surgery, so that removes that added fantasy value. I don’t know, I can’t see holding Mike Trout in redraft leagues unless I have been super lucky with nobody else needing to go in my IL spots.

Marcus Stroman - SP, SF: 74% rostered
To me, Stroman is a streamer and one who hasn’t been particularly good in three of his last four starts. I understand that he has been a stable starting pitcher for years and so you can certainly hold him in deeper formats, but I think, in 10 and 12-team leagues, he can be dropped for some of those younger, high-upside arms I listed above. I don’t love Stroman’s start against a solid Twins offense this upcoming week.

Brandon Pfaadt - SP, ARI: 70% rostered
Are we still holding Pfaadt in shallower leagues? Why? I know he made some changes in the postseason last year and had some good starts, but this is not the breakout profile people seem to want. He remains essentially a one-pitch pitcher with his sweeper. His other pitches don’t miss enough bats and they give up too much hard contact. He’s also getting hit HARDER by lefties than he did last year. He can be streamed in plus matchups but that should be it for now in shallower formats.

Spencer Torkelson - 1B, DET: 67% rostered
I covered Tork last week, but I still think it’s time to move on in shallower leagues. Pitchers are challenging him up in the zone way more than last year and he’s simply not responding. He’s not chasing more or swinging and missing less, but the quality of contact has been awful. He has a 2.2% barrel rate and a 24% Ideal Contact Rate. He’s hitting far more pop-ups, which tells me he’s not able to get his hands on top of the ball at the top of the strike zone. Could he figure it out? Sure, but I’m not sure he needs to do that from my lineup.

Players to Hold

Colton Cowser - OF, BAL: 63% rostered
Cowser has seen his roster rate dip 13% over the last day, and I get it since the last two weeks have not been good for Cowser, seeing him hit 6-for-35 (.171). He’s seeing his strikeout and swinging strike rates rise, but he’s still hitting the ball well. I know he doesn’t have the longest leash with so many talented players in Baltimore, but we see rookies go through these ups and downs often as pitchers adjust to them. Cowser is still barreling the ball consistently but isn’t getting to the pull side as much and is getting a bit unlucky on his balls in play. I believe in Cowser’s talent and quality of contact and think he’ll get things sorted out.

Jeimer Candelario - 1B/3B, CIN: (36% rostered)
I’ve had Candelario on this a few times, but I think he’s coming out of his slump. This week he went 6-for-18 with a home run, two runs, and two RBI, and he’s now hitting .300 over his last two weeks. The counting stats haven’t been there because the Reds lineup has been ice-cold, but I think that will begin to change as well. As I mentioned last week, Candelario has an everyday spot in a good Reds lineup in a great home park. His season last year was not flukey. He’s a good hitter who was pulling and lifting the ball more than he had in years past, which led to a power boost. He’s always posted solid batting averages, so the added power was a nice addition. Maybe he’s pressing to earn his new contract. Maybe it’s just a cold streak, but I would not be cutting him loose in most 12-team leagues and deeper because I think this will click in.